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Cancer. 1992 Sep 1;70(5):1024-9.

Familial nasopharyngeal carcinoma in patients who are not Chinese.

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Epidemiology and Biostatistics Program, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.



Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) is a malignancy that is prominent in Cantonese Chinese people. It is presumed to result from an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, including the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). In an attempt to further clarify the pathogenesis of this disease, an evaluation of NPC occurring in racial/ethnic groups not considered susceptible to this disease could be informative.


A white family with NPC occurring in three siblings was investigated and information was gleaned from literature on other reports of familial NPC in non-Chinese families.


In the family being investigated, another genetically determined disease, hemophilia, was identified. Radiation early in life was noted to be a possible risk factor for NPC in the proband. A review of familial NPC in the white population revealed that in contrast to sporadic NPC, which is usually of the well-differentiated type, familial NPC usually is poorly differentiated.


Familial NPC offers an important opportunity to investigate the etiology of this disease. With newer laboratory techniques to investigate pathogenetic mechanisms, detailed evaluations of non-Chinese NPC families may become increasingly important.

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